Ask the Critic: Where to go for a break-up date?
It probably won't surprise you to learn that I haven't been on a lot of dates. Thus far, my personal history of socio-sexual relations has been divided into two very distinct categories. Depending on the year, the place and my condition, I have either gotten by as some kind of sleazy Lothario man-skank or in a state of almost hysterical serial monogamy.
In the first instance (which usually saw me as a wasted and twitchy cook or chef, rarely out of my whites or out of my kitchen), my liaisons with the opposite sex were generally confined to running across a waitress or hostess or girl-cook with a hungry look in her eye, pouring her a drink (or worse), then lifting her up onto the stainless and knocking the cutting boards loose. Not exactly a date.
In the second case, the setup was generally the same (me, kitchen, wasted, etc.), but something in my head was different. Our first date would customarily involve the same preliminaries, the same outcome, but would then end with me immediately moving my pawnshop TV into her living room and my work boots into her front hall. At which point we would begin living together -- a state that would persist for months or years, however long it took the lovely lady to get entirely sick of me. Again, not really a date.
Still, I write about date restaurants a lot. Last week's Ask the Critic question was about man dates -- where to go, what to eat, how to behave. And aside from those accusations of rampant homophobia, we got a lot of good responses, some reminders on etiquette and a nice (if informal) discussion on manliness going between rival groups of posters.
This week, I'm talking about actual dates (gay, straight, crooked, what-have-you) and, in particular, the most uncomfortable date of them all: the last one.
Despite my complete lack of actual on-the-job experience (so to
speak), someone recently asked me for a good restaurant to go to
for the inevitable break-up date: that sitcom standard, "It's not you,
it's me," weepy, awful, drink-in-the-face moment when one must look
another human being in the eye and explain to them that while
everything has been going just swimmingly in the relationship and the
six-hour jazz fusion concert last night was just great and that the
thing they do with their tongue during sex really isn't weird at all and that everyone
gets angry enough to hit the mailman once in a while, you've just been
called away for work and will be spending the next six to twelve months
in Yemen. What my curious friend needed was a break-up restaurant. And fast.
And though I explained that, having had very few first
dates in my life, I've had even fewer last ones (I was most accustomed
to either just slinking away the next morning or being thrown out on my
punk ass two years later), luckily, I had what I thought was a perfect
place on tap: Katie Mullen's.
Why? Because I'd meant to give the
place a Best of Denver award for Best Last Date Restaurant, but then
realized that it hadn't yet been open long enough to qualify for
the award (a restaurant had to be open by January 1, 2009, to qualify; Katie missed that by six weeks). And ever since, I've been itching for the chance to talk up
this one, perhaps overlooked quality of Denver's biggest and best
So imagine the (completely fictionalized)
setup: You've managed to tolerate the quirks and fetishes and weird
social flaws of another human being for a number of weeks or months. But finally his/her tonnage of personal baggage and weirdness is
getting to you. Doesn't matter what the situation is, you just know
that you've got to get gone, and you know that it would probably be
better, safer and slightly less socially awkward (read: fewer tears and
less chance of them coming across the table at you with a butter knife)
to cut the cord in a highly public location. To me, Katie Mullen's is
perfect simply because it's so large and so densely packed. The
avenues for escape are plentiful. And once you've dropped the bomb (or
mentioned the restraining order), you can simply excuse yourself to the
bathrooms and vanish into the crowds. Matter of fact, since you're now
newly single, you could probably spend the whole rest of the night at
Katie Mullen's -- at one of the other bars, just around the corner from
your now heartbroken-slash-enraged ex -- without ever having to see him
or her again.
But then again,
as I've said, this is not exactly my area of expertise, so I am turning
it over to you, my loyal readers. Where's the best
place in town to stage a highly public break-up? Where would you go if
you had to unload a hundred-odd pounds of human deadwood and wanted to
do it in front of witnesses? As always, bonus points for creative
reasoning, and double bonus points for telling the true stories of public heartbreaks you've experienced, either as the breaker or the breakee.
So let's get this soap opera started, shall we?
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